OnStage St. Louis Columnist
I have to confess that I am a fan of a small theatre ‘experience’ where more than just the show is presented. For example the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening at Inner-City Arts’ 99 seat black box theatre. ERA made a small chapel into a Scottish castle ready for a feast. Half of the audience was seated in the round, circling a long table in the middle of the room. The other half was seated at the table and cast as King Duncan. ‘Brush up your Shakespeare’ indeed. Everyone was greeted by the cast and shown to their seats just like a dinner party. The audience chatted until our hostess (Emily Post) called for order and began the show with some advice on how to host a party. The foreshadowing and irony was not lost on anyone.
This production uses the classic Shakespeare text and inserts 1950s culture via Emily Post’s “Etiquette” and Dr. Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” rounded out with Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and the book of Revelations from the Bible. All weaved together like the fates threads, which also takes center stage during the show. That also leads to the ‘Trash’ part of the title. Many of the props and staging seemed to be found items. I really enjoyed the coronation scene with the royal robes in all their trashy glory.
The costumes (Meredith LaBounty) were what you would expect from a dinner party set in the mid-20th century, women in A-line length dresses and pearls, men in suits smoking pipes. They were very fitting for the theme, with special mention of Lady Macbeth’s dress which reminded me of a beautifully done fashion class project. Erik Kuhn did a wonderful job with the lighting and fight choreography. The lighting was powerful and dramatic when needed, and the fights and deaths (spoiler!) looked realistic. I will never look at shredded newspaper again. I would like to say that the whole crew did a amazing job. This production kept everyone moving, and I could see that hard work everyone put into the show. The same goes to the actors.
Mitch Eagles (Macbeth) spun his lines like a masterful storyteller and brought layers to the character. Rachel Tibbetts (Lady Macbeth) was a powerhouse. The Macduff’s (Carl Overly Jr and Maggie Conroy) displayed regal airs in both their Shakespeare lines and the 50s era adverts. Ellie Schwetye (Emily Post) played a wonderful guide through this production. Nic Tayborn (Banquo) was a strong performer who changed from character to character with ease. The women also covered the part of the witches and the men were the murderers filling out the drama of the dinner party.
If you enjoy your Shakespeare mixed with surrealism “Trash Macbeth” is the perfect show. This ERA production is at the Chapel 6238 Alexander Dr. in St. Louis. Performances are Wednesday thru Sunday April 27th – May 1st and Wednesday May 4th until Saturday May 7th starting at 8pm. Check out eratheatre.org for more details.